By Kirsten Bilger
Wilson College and the local community gathered together on Oct. 4 to listen to Jerome Copulsky and his experience with teaching the Bible. Copulsky spent fifteen weeks teaching the Hebrew Bible to inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup. He spoke of one class in particular where he taught a male class and they came across the book of Job. His students immediately gave their take on what they thought the book meant.
Copulsky says, “I witness these men building their minds, grappling with the ideas that for them are not merely abstract, but of the most immediate and ultimate concern.”
These men have similar backgrounds with living in bad neighborhoods, taking part in gangs and illegal behavior. They are given the chance to get an education and improve their lives. The book of Job discusses controversial topics with the big overall question asking why evil exists.
Copulsky started the discussion with narrating the story. Job lives in a world where things do not always make sense as the righteous suffer while the wicked prosper. He had wealth, cattle, and a family. Job stays faithful to God in his life and shuns evil. In the story, a divine council happened between God and His advisors. God tells them how good Job is and how he is the best. Everyone agrees, except for one. The lone advisor speaks out and tells God that Job is only good because he has everything. A bet is then made between the two and suffering falls upon Job.
Job’s cattle die, his wealth disappears, fire rains from the sky, and his sons and daughters die.
Though Job is put through this suffering, he continues to be faithful and worships God. God speaks again to His council of how good Job is and the same advisor disagrees. The advisor inflicts a skin disease upon Job, causing him pain and horrible disfigurement.
When three friends come to visit Job, they do not recognize him because of how disfigured he has become. As his friends look upon him, Job is silent. Seven days go by without Job speaking while his friends stand by him.
After the seven days, Job begins to curse his birth. He believes that death or not existing at all would be better than what he is going through. He begins to realize that life is not fair and questions why God allowed this to happen to him. A storm appears and God’s voice booms out in anger. He tells Job that he was not there when the world was created and so cannot understand what has been planned.
Copulsky concludes with saying that the limited minds of humans cannot fathom God’s purpose and plans. Everything happens for a reason, whether we like it or not, and there is a reason behind it. It may be a test of faith, a preparation for something that is to happen in the future, or to make someone stronger.
Like Job going through his trials, we all must face what comes our way. Whatever may happen, it is all part of God’s plan for us.